Whenever we buy a cast-iron utensil, we’re urged to season it before its first use, and to make sure that it’s properly seasoned throughout its lifespan. But how, exactly, do you season a cast-iron pan? And what does it accomplish?
First of all, in order to season a cast-iron pan, you want to get the pan hot enough so that oil actually reacts with it on a molecular level. Before seasoning, it’s important to make sure that the pan is as clean as possible, so wash it with warm, soapy water and a stiff brush (this is the only time you should ever use soap on it). Then dry it, give it a thin coat of oil, and let it bake face-down on the center rack of a 325-degree F oven for a full hour. During this time, the fat will work its way into the iron on a microscopic scale, rendering it nonstick.
So what does seasoning a cast-iron pan accomplish? It creates a fat-iron hybrid that gets very hot while staying nonstick, turning it into one of the most badass cooking utensils in existence. And if it ever gets out of shape or has been mistreated, just re-season it and it’ll be good as new. That’s why cast-iron pans will last you a lifetime!